Mondays are typically a slow night at Trustmark Park in Pearl. May 9 could be – should be – different. Dansby Swanson, the former No. 1 overall pick and one of the top prospects in all of baseball, has been promoted to the Double-A Mississippi Braves, whose next home game is May 9 against Mobile. Swanson, a shortstop acquired by Atlanta from Arizona in the Shelby Miller deal, was batting .333 with a homer, 10 RBIs, 12 doubles and seven steals at Class A Carolina. He is expected to make his M-Braves debut tonight at Jacksonville. In a corresponding move, the Braves promoted Ozzie Albies, another shortstop prospect, to Triple-A Gwinnett. Albies was batting .369 for the M-Braves.
The 100th home run of Seth Smith’s big league career will certainly be memorable. The former Ole Miss standout from Jackson hit the milestone bomb on Friday night, giving Seattle a 1-0 win over visiting Kansas City. It was the only hit the Mariners got. The victory went to Seattle ace Felix Hernandez and was the 145th of his career, which matches Jamie Moyer for the most in franchise history. The left-handed hitting Smith went deep against righty Kris Medlen, the former Mississippi Braves star, in the sixth inning. The ball just got over the wall in right field at Safeco Field and was just out of the reach of the Royals’ Jarrod Dyson, the Southwest Mississippi Community College product from McComb. Smith’s first career homer came in 2008 with Colorado. He has also homered for Oakland and San Diego. And if you were wondering, 91 of his homers have come against right-handers.
Mississippi College makes its first trip since 1996 to Ferriss Field in Cleveland this weekend. It might not be great fun. Waiting there for the Choctaws is a nationally ranked Delta State team that leads the Gulf South Conference in nine offensive categories. MC, improved this year under first-year coach Jeremy Haworth, is 16-28, 7-23 in the GSC (still ineligible for the championship), and has a staff ERA of 5.29. DSU is 32-14, 21-9 and pushing hard for an NCAA Division II Tournament bid. The Statesmen are ranked No. 6 in the latest South Region rankings. MC trails in the all-time series with DSU 104-28-1, though the Choctaws did win one of three last year in Clinton. The teams will play two games on Saturday and a single game Sunday. … Other series to watch this weekend: There’s Mississippi State-Alabama and LSU-Ole Miss, of course, and Southern Miss faces what could be a big test at Florida Atlantic. The Owls are 28-11, 12-6 C-USA, just 2 games back of the first-place Golden Eagles (30-12, 14-4). FAU’s C.J. Cheatham, the league’s preseason payer of the year, is batting .365. … Jackson State, which is hosting Alabama A&M, is treading water in the SWAC East at 8-8, good for second place in the standings behind Alabama State, 18-0 and visiting Alcorn State this weekend. JSU’s Cornelius Copeland leads the SWAC in hitting at .423 and Jesus Santana leads in homers with 13. … William Carey (34-16, 16-7 SSAC) finishes its regular season at Loyola of New Orleans. Carey is third in the league; Faulkner has clinched the title. … Blue Mountain (22-31, 5-18 SSAC) needs to win two of three at Martin Methodist (20-22, 7-14) to earn a league tournament berth, according to the Toppers’ web site. … In the jucos, NJCAA No. 8-ranked Meridian is at No. 20 Northwest on Saturday in a battle of MACJC second-place clubs. The Eagles will then host No. 2 Jones County on Monday to end the regular season. JCJC (40-4, 23-3) has clinched the regular season crown.
Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson, who notched his sixth win of the year on Thursday, is ranked No. 10 on MLBPipeline’s latest list of the Top 100 draft prospects. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-hander has “the look of a frontline starter.” He wasn’t razor sharp against Alabama but went five innings, yielding six hits and three earned runs with four strikeouts in the Bulldogs’ 12-5 win. Hudson, who emerged as a prospect last summer in the Cape Cod League, is 6-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 74 K’s in 72 innings. Ole Miss ace Brady Bramlett, who is actually having a better year than Hudson, didn’t make the MLBPipeline list. Bramlett left after 3 1/3 innings of the Rebels’ 7-6 win against LSU on Thursday, having yielded seven hits and three earned runs, but for the season is 6-2, 2.61 with 73 K’s in 58 2/3 innings. Bramlett was drafted in the 22nd round by Oakland in 2015; he should go higher this summer. The only other Mississippian on the MLBPipeline list is George County High’s Walker Robbins, who checks in at 91. The State signee, a lefty-hitting first baseman who also pitches, is batting .469 with three homers and is 5-1, 0.46 on the mound. … Hudson was rated No. 19 by Baseball America in its March 10 draft prospect list. Ole Miss shortstop Errol Robinson, who has had a down year, was No. 57 and Oxford High catcher Thomas Dillard was No. 82.
BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C., was the scene on Wednesday of an impressive display of hitting prowess from a couple of minor-league Mississippians with big-league aspirations. Gulfport native and ex-Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley, one of the top prospects in the Cleveland organization, went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run as visiting Lynchburg beat the host Dash 12-6 in the Class A Carolina League clash. But even in defeat, Mason Robbins, a Leakesville native and former Southern Miss star, grabbed the headlines for Winston-Salem. Robbins hit for the cycle, getting both his first homer and triple of the season. It was the first cycle of Robbins’ career, “something you can cross off your bucket list in baseball,” he told milb.com. Robbins, a lefty-hitting outfielder, was a 25th-round pick in 2014 and isn’t among the ChiSox’s top-rated prospects. But he’s progressing in the system, hitting .275 for his career with 11 homers, 13 triples and 85 RBIs. Currently riding a hot streak, he’s at .259 with one homer, one triple and six RBIs in 2016. Bradley, a left-hitting first baseman, is batting .278 with five homers and 22 RBIs as a 19-year-old in the high-A Carolina League. For Bradley, who belted 27 homers in low-A ball in 2015, it’s not so much if he makes The Show as when.
A four-hit game on Monday moved Tim Anderson’s average above the Mendoza Line. But an 0-for-5 followed on Tuesday. It hasn’t been a silky smooth season for the former East Central Community College star now playing at Triple-A Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox’s system. After a big year in Double-A in 2015, Anderson is batting .221 with three doubles, two RBIs, seven runs and four steals in 15 games for Charlotte. “You’ve just got to keep grinding and stay focused and keep dreaming about what you’ve been working for all your life,” Anderson told milb.com. Veteran Jimmy Rollins is currently handling shortstop duties for the ChiSox, but Anderson, the 17th overall pick out of ECCC in 2013, is expected to take the job by 2017 if not before. Anderson’s speed is considered his standout tool. P.S. Mississippi State alum Jonathan Holder got the last three outs of a combo no-hitter for Double-A Trenton on Tuesday. Fellow New York Yankees prospect Ronald Herrera worked the first eight innings against New Hampshire. Gulfport’s Holder got two strikeouts and made a nice defensive play in the ninth. “I’m thankful to be part of something that goes into history here in Trenton,” Holder told milb.com. He has a 1.08 ERA in four appearances at Trenton this season. … Former Biloxi Shuckers star Orlando Arcia, the heir apparent for Milwaukee’s shortstop job, is batting .313 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs. “He loves to play the game and he’s always having fun out there,” Sky Sox manager Rick Sweet, the former Jackson Generals skipper, told milb.com.
Hinds Community College will try to join an exclusive club today. The Eagles will try to beat Jones County Junior College, something only three teams have managed in 2016. Hinds, the defending state champ, has a good club. The Eagles are 23-17 and 15-9 in the MACJC. Chase Cockrell is hitting .355 with six homers and 27 RBIs. Carlisle Koestler has nine wins and three saves. But Jones’ stuff dwarfs everyone else’s. The Bobcats, ranked No. 2 in NJCAA Division II, are 37-3 and 20-2, 5 games up in the MACJC standings. (The losses: Arkansas Baptist, Itawamba and Southwest.) JCJC hits .379 as a team, slugs .583. The Bobcats average 9.4 runs a game, allow 3.5. Erick Hoard, a freshman from Brandon, has 13 homers and 56 RBIs. Mason Irby is hitting .472. Clint Sasser is at .434 with 42 steals in 45 attempts. Three pitchers have eight wins, led by Mason Strickland (8-0, 2.32 ERA, 57 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings). Today’s doubleheader is in Ellisville, where Jones has suffered two of its losses. A chink in the armor? Probably not. P.S. Hoard won MACJC player of the week honors after going 7-for-13 with two homers and eight RBIs in four wins last week. Gulf Coast’s Dylan Mills-Derouen, who threw a no-hitter against East Central on April 19, was named pitcher of the week.
8,480 – Listed capacity of Pearl’s Trustmark Park, which will be exceeded in tonight’s Ole Miss-Mississippi State game.
6:30 – Time of first pitch, changed to accommodate the SEC Network broadcast.
36 – Meetings in the Mayor’s Trophy/Governor’s Cup series, with each team winning 18 times.
246 – Wins for State in the all-time series.
205 – Wins for Ole Miss in the all-time series.
5 – Wins by State vs. Ole Miss in nine games at Trustmark Park.
3 – State’s ranking in the Baseball America poll (and two others).
9 – Ole Miss’ ranking in the BA poll.
0 – Career starts for Ole Miss freshman Ryan Cyr (1-0, 0.00 in 12 innings), who gets the ball tonight.
8 – Career starts for State junior Chad Smith, who is 3-3, 4.99 in 11 appearances overall.
7 – Home runs by Gavin Collins, State’s leader.
5 – Home runs by Colby Bortles and J.B. Woodman, Ole Miss’ leaders.
.397 – State’s team on-base percentage.
.362 – Ole Miss’ team OBP.
39 – First-inning runs scored by Ole Miss (to 15 by its opponents).
122 – Two-out RBIs by State hitters.
3.84 – State’s staff ERA.
3.07 – Ole Miss’ staff ERA.
The dust has settled and things are chill again in Hattiesburg – we assume – after what was hailed as one of the great moments in Taylor Park history on Sunday. So much to remember from Southern Miss’ 2-1 victory over Rice, which clinched just the second series win ever for the Golden Eagles over the perennially powerful Owls. There was, of course, Daniel Keating’s pinch-hit single that delivered the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Hunter Slater’s walk to start the ninth. Tracy Hadley’s bunt. Kirk McCarty going seven-plus. Chuckie Robinson belting a home run. Nick Sandlin getting the last four outs. USM climbed out of the postgame dogpile and into first place alone in C-USA. The Eagles are also climbing in the national polls. But Eagle Nation needs to remember this, too: USM went 35-16-1 in 2015 and did not get an NCAA Tournament invitation. The 2016 Eagles, at 29-12, need to keep winning, starting Tuesday when nationally ranked Louisiana-Lafayette comes to town. Sunday’s win over Rice could be one of those defining moments that successful teams like to look back on. But it’ll lose much of its luster if the Eagles can’t ride the momentum over the next few weeks.
Alex Presley, the Ole Miss product now playing for Milwaukee, hit his first home run of the season on Sunday. Fellow Rebels alum Seth Smith, with Seattle, hit his second bomb of 2016, the 99th of his career. Ex-Southern Miss star Brian Dozier, perhaps feeling the same energy his Golden Eagles drew upon in their dramatic win against Rice, hit his third homer for Minnesota. Chris Coghlan, another former Ole Miss standout now with Oakland, hit his fourth dinger of the year. And Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson, the leading home run hitter among Mississippians in the majors, belted No. 5 for Tampa Bay. To recap: That’s 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. … The Atlanta Braves have three home runs as a team this season; they were homer-less in another loss on Sunday. Meanwhile, former Mississippi Braves Tommy La Stella, Christian Bethancourt and Yunel Escobar all went deep for other clubs. It was the first of the year for both La Stella and Bethancourt, the second for Escobar. … Former Mississippi State standout Hunter Renfroe, playing at Triple-A El Paso in the San Diego system, homered in both games of a doubleheader on Sunday and now has bombs in four straight games. Those are his only homers of the season.